A third DUI offense in Florida carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in Florida State Prison. If the third offense did not occur within 10 years of a prior offense, it is treated as a first-degree misdemeanor and handled in the county courts with the maximum penalty of up to one year in the county jail. A third drunk driving offense, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, is going to be treated differently than a first or a second offense.
If you are facing charges for driving under the influence in Florida, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you create your defense. A Ft Lauderdale third offense DUI lawyer will have knowledge of local laws that may be vital to the future of your case.
Trial and Prosecution
The hearing location depends on whether or not a third offense is a misdemeanor or a felony. Any DUI can be a felony if it involves serious bodily injury or death. Any other third offense DUI charges in Florida can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on when it occurred with respect to any previous offense. Florida law dictates that if a third DUI arrest occurs within 10 years of a prior drunk driving conviction, it can be prosecuted as a third-degree felony, and heard in the circuit courts.
When an individual is charged with a third or successive DUI, they should expect a vigorous degree of prosecution by the state attorney’s office which requires a higher level of defense. If the case is a felony, the ramifications go up significantly and the case goes to circuit court where very serious offenses are heard. Repeat offenders are handled by the Recidivism Unit (R.U.) in the prosecutor’s office which means they are vigorously prosecuted. A lawyer in Ft Lauderdale could help someone prepare for trial if they have been accused of a third DUI offense.
DUI Penalties for a Third Offense
Diversion on third offense DUI charges in Florida is rare or non-existent. Probation is certainly a possibility, but that is going to come with other penalties assuming the individual is found guilty, pleads no contest or guilty to a drunk driving charge. The first thing a Ft Lauderdale attorney can do in a DUI case involving a third offense is determine what can be done to dismiss the case; have the evidence suppressed; or if any motions need to be filed that would result in a dismissal or a reduction of the charge, e.g., from a DUI to reckless driving.
Creating a Defense for a Third Drunk Driving Offense
When an individual goes to court on their third DUI offense, the prosecutor and the judge may against solely imposing probation. A defense attorney may argue that treatment instead jail time would be the best solution by creating a back story of the individual in order to make the prosecutor and the judge aware and perhaps more sympathetic of the individual. If there was a long-term issue with substance abuse, maybe it was a period of time in this person’s life that created this particular issue and had it been addressed at the time, it may not have happened. There is a lot more involvement as far as the court system is concerned to familiarize the prosecutor and the judge of the person’s life in an effort to garner leniency.
The court understands that people make mistakes, and as long as nobody gets hurt and as long there were no severe aggravating circumstances, meaning, accidents versus non-accidents, very high blood alcohol readings versus very low. The prosecutor and the court will usually work with an individual and their lawyer to help educate them so that the resolution will not drastically disrupt their life in the hopes that he will learn from it and possibly give back to the community. An attorney in Ft Lauderdale could help someone charged with drunk driving for a third time prepare a defense.
Contact a Ft Lauderdale Third Offense DUI Attorney
The prosecutor and the judge are going to consider punitive measures and/or treatment measures. A Ft Lauderdale third offense DUI lawyer will know what the prosecutor and the judge are looking for, what would satisfy them as far as treatment is concerned at the misdemeanor court level, and that a third DUI misdemeanor charge in county court would require some type of residential treatment in lieu of jail time.
If the DUI charge is within five years of a prior offense or if they have third offense within 10 years of a prior offense, not only does it trigger the felony statute, but instead of the 10 days of jail time and the five years of the loss of license on a second offense, if the third DUI offense occurs within 10 years of a prior offense, that is a mandatory 30 days in the county jail and a 10 year loss of license from the Department of Motor Vehicles which will not consider a hardship license after the expiration of the first two years.
If you are found guilty of a DUI charge or if there is no way to get it dropped or reduced, it is possible to agree to residential treatment in lieu of jail time, but with possible aggravating facts or circumstances, the judge and prosecutor may recommend jail time.